Authored by Jayant Row in Food and Cooking
Published on 04-24-2009
A slow cooker is commonly referred to as a Crock-Pot. This is actually the trade name given by Rival Industries when it first introduced the slow cooker in 1971. A slow cooker is a counter top cooking appliance that works on electricity and maintains a low temperature for many hours. These temperatures are lower than those normally used in cooking for baking, boiling or frying. It allows for the cooking of certain dishes like pot roast, stew, rice and others. The dishes will be cooked slowly and will remain warm for many hours, allowing housewives to leave the cooker unattended, but also ensuring that there is a warm ready meal available when she comes home from the office or wherever she has gone to.
The slow cooker is essentially a round cooking pot made of porcelain or ceramic surrounded in a metal housing. The lid is quite often transparent and sits in a grove which also collects moisture and condensation, and thus acts as seal. No pressure develops in a crock-pot, and it is therefore essentially safe from any accidents. Temperature settings are about 70° C to 90° C and thus below the boiling point of water which is 100°C. Steam is only formed at boiling temperature and can cause pressure problems if not released. Thus a slow cooker never develops this situation of high pressure.
Meals cooked in this fashion are nowadays commonly referred to as Crock-Pot meals and can save you a lot of money. It ensures that you do not visit the fast food joint on your way home from work and can yet ensure a hot meal for you and the family at dinnertime.
You can put an entire chicken into the crock-pot and let it cook. The extra portions can be cut up and used in subsequent meals, thus stretching your chicken further. The slow cooking method is very useful for cheaper cuts of meat, which are tenderized easily in the slow cooker and can save you money.
Crock-pots or slow cookers have a much lower requirement of electricity as the elements that govern the cooking are smaller and therefore kinder to your energy bill. They are also much safer to use and can be left unattended for hours.
You are required to plan your meals much in advance, and this process of planning itself ensures that the meals prepared are more nutritious and full of variety. The Crock-Pot requires no attention and can keep a meal warm for hours, thus saving you the need of having to microwave the meal before eating.
One always remembers the delicious meals that our grandparents prepared, because the cooking was always done in a slow manner that allowed all the juices of the various ingredients to mingle and make a mouthwatering final product. The slow cooker does the same thing in a modern way, which allows the time in the kitchen to be substantially reduced. By planning your meals and allowing you to use cheaper meat products, it can save you quite a bit of money each month.